Ezekiel 28
Clarke's Commentary
The first part of this chapter relates to a King of Tyre, probably the same who is called in the Phoenician annals Ithobalus. He seems to have been a vain man, who affected Divine honors. The prophet treats his foolish pretensions with severe irony, and predicts his doom, Ezekiel 28:1-10. He then takes up a funeral dirge and lamentation over him, in which his former pomp and splendor are finely contrasted with his fall, in terms that seem frequently to allude to the fall of Lucifer from heaven, (Isaiah 14), Ezekiel 28:11-19. The overthrow of Sidon, the mother city of Tyre, is next announced, Ezekiel 28:20-23; and the chapter concludes with a promise to the Jews of deliverance from all their enemies, and particularly of their restoration from the Babylonish captivity, Ezekiel 28:24-26.

The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,
Son of man, say unto the prince of Tyrus, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a God, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou art a man, and not God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God:
Say unto the prince of Tyrus - But who was this prince of Tyrus? Some think Hiram; some, Sin; some, the devil; others, Ithobaal, with whom the chronology and circumstances best agree. Origen thought the guardian angel of the city was intended.

I am a god - That is, I am absolute, independent, and accountable to none. He was a man of great pride and arrogance.

Behold, thou art wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that they can hide from thee:
Thou art wiser than Daniel - Daniel was at this time living, and was reputable for his great wisdom. This is said ironically. See Ezekiel 14:14; Ezekiel 26:1.

With thy wisdom and with thine understanding thou hast gotten thee riches, and hast gotten gold and silver into thy treasures:
By thy great wisdom and by thy traffick hast thou increased thy riches, and thine heart is lifted up because of thy riches:
By thy great wisdom - He attributed every thing to himself; he did not acknowledge a Divine providence. As he got all by himself, so he believed he could keep all by himself, and had no need of any foreign help.

Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thou hast set thine heart as the heart of God;
Behold, therefore I will bring strangers upon thee, the terrible of the nations: and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of thy wisdom, and they shall defile thy brightness.
I will bring strangers upon thee - The Chaldeans.

They shall bring thee down to the pit, and thou shalt die the deaths of them that are slain in the midst of the seas.
Wilt thou yet say before him that slayeth thee, I am God? but thou shalt be a man, and no God, in the hand of him that slayeth thee.
Wilt thou yet say before him that slayeth thee - Wilt thou continue thy pride and arrogance when the sword is sheathed in thee, and still imagine that thou art self-sufficient and independent?

Thou shalt die the deaths of the uncircumcised by the hand of strangers: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD.
The deaths of the uncircumcised - Two deaths, temporal and eternal. Ithobaal was taken and killed by Nebuchadnezzar.

Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.
Thou sealest up - This has been translated, "Thou drawest thy own likeness." "Thou formest a portrait of thyself; and hast represented thyself the perfection of wisdom and beauty." I believe this to be the meaning of the place.

Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.
Thou hast been in Eden - This also is a strong irony. Thou art like Adam, when in his innocence and excellence he was in the garden of Eden!

Every precious stone was thy covering - For a description of these stones see the note on Exodus 28:17.

Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.
Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth - The irony is continued; and here he is likened to the Cherub that guarded the gates of Paradise, and kept the way of the tree of life; or to one of the cherubs whose wings, spread out, covered the mercy-seat.

Thou mast upon the holy mountain of God - The irony is still continued; and now he is compared to Hoses, and afterwards to one of the chief angels, who has walked up and down among the stones of fire; that is, thy floors have been paved with precious stones, that shone and sparkled like fire.

Lucan, describing the splendor of the apartments of Cleopatra, queen of Egypt, speaks in nearly a similar language: -

Nec summis crustata domus, sectisque nitebat

Marmoribus, stabatque sibi non segnis achates,

Purpureusque lapis, totusque effusus in aula

Calcabatur onyx;

Pharsal. lib. x.

Rich as some fane by slavish zealots reared,

For the proud banquet stood the hall prepared:

Thick golden plates the latent beams infold,

And the high roof was fretted o'er with gold.

Of solid marble all the walls were made,

And onyx e'en the meaner floor inlaid;

While porphyry and agate round the court

In massy columns rose, a proud support.

Of solid ebony each post was wrought,

From swarthy Meroe profusely brought.

With ivory was the entrance crusted o'er,

And polished tortoise hid each shining door;

While on the cloudy spots enchased was seen

The trusty emerald's never-fading green.

Within the royal beds and couches shone,

Beamy and bright with many a costly stone,

The glowing purple rich.


Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.
Thou wast perfect in thy ways - The irony seems still to be kept up. Thou hast been like the angels, like Moses, like the cherubs, like Adam, like God, till thy iniquity was found out.

By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.
I will cast thee as profane - Thou shalt be cast down from thine eminence.

From the midst of the stones of fire - Some, supposing that stones of fire means the stars, have thought that the whole refers to the fall of Satan.

Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.
Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee.
Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries - Irony continued. As God, as the angels, as the cherubim, thou must have had thy sanctuaries; but thou hast defiled them: and as Adam, thou hast polluted thy Eden, and hast been expelled from Paradise.

All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more.
Thou shalt be a terror - Instead of being an object of adoration thou shalt be a subject of horror, and at last be destroyed with thy city, so that nothing but thy name shall remain. It was entirely burnt by Alexander the Great, as it had been before by Nebuchadnezzar.

Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
Son of man, set thy face against Zidon, and prophesy against it,
And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Zidon; and I will be glorified in the midst of thee: and they shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall have executed judgments in her, and shall be sanctified in her.
I am against thee, O Zidon - Sidon for a long time had possessed the empire of the sea and of all Phoenicia, and Tyre was one of its colonies; but in process of time, the daughter became greater than the mother. It seems to have been an independent place at the time in which Tyre was taken; but it is likely that it was taken by the Chaldeans soon after the former.

For I will send into her pestilence, and blood into her streets; and the wounded shall be judged in the midst of her by the sword upon her on every side; and they shall know that I am the LORD.
And the wounded - חלל chalal, the soldiery. All its supports shall be taken away, and its defenders destroyed.

And there shall be no more a pricking brier unto the house of Israel, nor any grieving thorn of all that are round about them, that despised them; and they shall know that I am the Lord GOD.
There shall be no more a pricking brier - Nothing to excite Israel to idolatry when restored from their captivity. Perhaps there is an allusion to Jezebel, daughter of Ethbaal, king of Sidon, and wife to Ahab, king of Israel, who was the greatest curse to Israel, and the universal restorer of idolatry in the land, see 1 Kings 16:31. Sidon being destroyed, there would come no encourager of idolatry from that quarter.

Thus saith the Lord GOD; When I shall have gathered the house of Israel from the people among whom they are scattered, and shall be sanctified in them in the sight of the heathen, then shall they dwell in their land that I have given to my servant Jacob.
When I shall have gathered the house of Israel - In their long captivity, God had been preparing the land for them so as to make it a safe dwelling; and hence he executed judgments on all the heathen nations round about by means of the Chaldeans. Thus Tyre and Sidon were destroyed, as were the Ammonites and others who had been the inveterate enemies of the Jews. Judgment first began at his own house, then proceeded to the heathen nations; and when they were brought down, then he visited and redeemed his people. Thus God's ways are proved to be all equal; partialities and caprices belong not to him.

And they shall dwell safely therein, and shall build houses, and plant vineyards; yea, they shall dwell with confidence, when I have executed judgments upon all those that despise them round about them; and they shall know that I am the LORD their God.
Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke [1831].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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